Lady Gaga: Imitator, Innovator, or both?

Posted by , 22 May 2011


Lady Gaga and her inspirations

Top left: Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Bottom Left: Sonia Rykiel, Main Image: The Lady Gaga Fame Monster Poster

On May 23 2011, the Mother (or should that be Mother Monster?) ship descends upon us, bringing the new Lady Gaga album, Born This Way.  Admittedly, Lady Gaga’s image has changed profoundly since she burst on the scene in early 2009 with ‘Just Dance’.  Her outfits are increasingly provocative and complex, ranging from Alexander McQueen lobster claw shoes to a dress fashioned from meat (an idea borrowed from Canadian artist Jan Sterback) to attend the MTV Music Awards!

But how original is Lady Gaga, and does it even matter?  Like her direct pop ancestor, Madonna, she’s obligated to reinvent herself constantly. In our hyper-fast internet age her reinvention needs to take place at a breakneck speed to keep fans interested, and she can’t generate a completely new image for herself all the time, right?

Take, for instance, the main photos at the top of this post.  Rei Kawakubo is the rather austere looking head of avant-garde Japanese design house, Comme des Garçons.  Lady Gaga, in The Fame Monster poster, directly references Rei’s image with her partially hidden face and sharp haircut.  The singer also borrows her exaggerated bobbed haircut from another designer, Sonia Rykiel. This shows Gaga’s sophisticated fashion sensibility and the influences she draws upon to mould her own image as a pop star.  It’s also been remarked that Lady Gaga shares a striking resemblance to the late Isabella Blow, seen in the Born This Way video and this March 2011 Vogue photospread, shot by Mario Testino.  Spooky.

Born This Way Poster

Born This Way Poster: The Artwork for Lady Gaga’s latest blockbuster album

Beyond the realm of fashion, the angular prosthetics on Gaga’s face and shoulders in The Born This Way poster artwork were directly inspired by French artist ORLAN (yes she has to spell her name in CAPITALS) who uses plastic surgery on her own face and body as her artistic medium of choice. Eek!

So, there’s definately food for thought when considering how Gaga constructs her image and it’s impossible to predict where she’ll go next, making the likes of Britney Spears look quaintly old fashioned in comparison.

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